Alzheimers Disease Information Caregivers

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease is extremely draining, both physically and emotionally. According to the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, caregiver exhaustion and depression are the two main reasons that Alzheimer’s patients go into nursing homes. The constant demands of Alzheimer’s care just become too much for the caregiver.

Information for Caregivers Considering Home Care

Experts suggest that you, as the potential caregiver, realistically assess whether or not you can provide Alzheimer’s care. Home care may be possible in the earlier stages of the disease, but as the patient deteriorates and care becomes more difficult, you may need to consider other options.

As Alzheimer’s progresses, the patient loses more and more of their skills and abilities. Eventually they need help with basic tasks, such as eating and getting dressed. Sleep disturbances are also common in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, and generally, when your patient is awake, you are too.

In addition to the physical demands of caregiving, you must also cope with the emotional strain of watching your loved one’s abilities, memories and personality slowly vanish. Behavioral symptoms such as agitation, screaming and aggression are especially difficult to deal with.

Caregiver “burnout” is extremely common problem with Alzheimer’s care. Home care requires being on call at all times. Most caregivers who are employed are eventually forced to cut back their hours or give up their jobs entirely to meet the demands of Alzheimer’s nursing care. Depression and exhaustion are common. Caregivers also tend to neglect their own health and wellbeing and can develop chronic health problems as a result.

Information for Caregivers on Caring for Yourself

Caregivers often try to carry the burden of Alzheimer’s nursing care themselves, particularly if the patient is a spouse or a parent. One of the best ways to reduce the burden of care is to get help from other people. Many caregivers are hesitant to ask for help because they feel a sense of obligation or fear that another caregiver will disrupt the care routine. However, Alzheimer’s care can last for a decade or more. By pacing yourself and taking care of your own health, you’ll be able to provide higher quality care for the duration of your loved one’s illness.

If you’ve been caring for your loved one by yourself for a long time, your family members may not understand how tired you are. Being honest with your family about your struggles will likely produce a number of willing volunteers. Because you have the best understanding of the patients’ needs, it may be helpful to ask your family members to perform specific tasks. You could also make a list of the things you need help with so your family members can choose the tasks that suit their abilities and schedules.

A number of organizations also offer different levels of help with Alzheimer’s care. Home care assistance options include:

  • Adult day services (daytime activities for Alzheimer’s patients)
  • Home health services (assistance with everyday patient care)
  • Respite care (offers caregivers a break for a few hours).

Resources

Alzheimer’s Association. (2010). 2010 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, Volume 6. Retrieved June 25, 2010, from http://www.alz.org/documents_custom/report_alzfactsfigures2010.pdf.

Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation. (n.d.) Alzheimer’s family support and education. Retrieved June 25, 2010, from http://www.alzinfo.org/alzheimers-treatment-family.asp.

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (n.d.) Caregivers: In depth. Retrieved June 25, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/caregivers/MY00395/TAB=indepth.

U.S. National Institutes of Health – National Institute on Aging. (n.d.) Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease: Your easy-to-use guide from the National Institute on Aging. Retrieved June 25, 2010, from http://www.nia.nih.gov/Alzheimers/Publications/CaringAD/.